Philadelphia 76ers: Best single game individual performances of the Brett Brown era

Dec 1, 2015; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia 76ers guard Isaiah Canaan (0) reacts after hitting a three point shot against the Los Angeles Lakers during the first quarter at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

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Brett Brown recently completed his fourth season at the helm of the Philadelphia 76ers. Here’s a look at the best individual performances during this period.

The conclusion of the 2016-17 season brought an end to head coach Brett Brown’s fourth year in charge of the Philadelphia 76ers. During this span, the Sixers have compiled a 75-253 record while using a total of 64 players.

The combination of simultaneously dealing with an extremely high turnover of players and a front office focused on providing a sub par roster has made it an extremely frantic four seasons for Brown. But to his credit, Brown has fought through arguably the hardest stretch in franchise history to lead the Sixers to a 28-54 record this season.

The front office referenced here is, of course, from the Sam Hinkie era. While it provided teams capable of just 19,18 and 10 wins in Brown’s first three seasons, there is now finally some light at the end of the tunnel.

In a draft this year that is considered the best in over a decade, the Sixers will potentially hold two of the top four draft picks, primarily due to Hinkie’s wheeling and dealing. Furthermore, they are eagerly looking forward to the return to full health of budding stars in Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons.

So while the future now looks bright, let’s take a look at top statistical performances from Brown’s four season’s in charge, primarily per Basketball-Reference.

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James Anderson: 36 Points

Despite the lack of success, it’s still quite surprising that not a single player has reached the 40-point mark under Brown. The player with the highest point total during this stretch was swingman James Anderson. Despite playing in 80 games in the 2013-14 season, Anderson lasted just one season with the Sixers.

The game in question was during a rare home victory against the Houston Rockets. Playing 44 minutes, Anderson scored 36 points on 12-of-16 shooting from field, including 6-of-8 from downtown. This represented one of two 30-point games on the season for Anderson, despite him averaging just 10.1 points per game.

Here are the highlights from his performance:

The full top six list for scoring over the past four seasons includes the following:

  1. James Anderson: 36 points, Nov. 13, 2013
  2. Evan Turner: 34 points, Jan. 22, 2014
  3. Michael Carter-Williams: 33 points, Jan. 7, 2014
  4. Joel Embiid: 33 points, Dec. 18, 2016
  5. Joel Embiid: 32 points, Jan. 27, 2017
  6. Dario Saric: 32 points, Mar. 24, 2017

Since Anderson’s stint in Philadelphia, he has played a total of 51 games for the Sacramento Kings, and was completely out of the league last season. Instead, he was plying his trade in Turkey.

Embiid’s presence on the list illustrates both the impact and potential he displayed during his 31-game debut season. The gradual improvement of Saric, capped by his career-best 32 points, highlights the upside the Sixers have for the years to come.

. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Ersan Ilyasova, Jahlil Okafor: 17 Rebounds

Although it freed up more playing time for rookie Dario Saric, Ersan Ilyasova’s departure midseason via trade was unfortunate on his part. Overall, he averaged 14.8 points and 5.9 rebounds during his 53-game stint. He was also able to grab 10 or more rebounds on 13 occasions as a Sixer.

For his part, Okafor’s 17-rebound performance came in the midst of an impressive rookie campaign which saw him average 17.5 points and 7.0 rebounds per game. But due to the presence of players such as Embiid and Saric, Okafor’s playing time and production took a hit last season. This game also saw Okafor record 22 points, three blocks and a +13 while on the floor in a home win over the Brooklyn Nets.

Here are the highlights of Okafor’s outstanding night on the boards:

The full top five list for rebounds over the past four seasons is as follows:

  1. Ersan Ilyasova: 17 rebounds, Dec. 6, 2016
  2. Jahlil Okafor: 17 rebounds, Feb. 6, 2016
  3. Jahlil Okafor: 15 rebounds, Nov. 9, 2015
  4. Dario Saric: 15 rebounds, Feb. 25, 2017
  5. Henry Sims: 15 rebounds, Mar. 22, 2014

Known more for his elite offensive skills, this performance demonstrates Okafor’s overall capabilities moving forward. Furthermore, finishing twice in the top five list is highly impressive. And like Saric, Okafor made the top five in both scoring and rebounding in his rookie campaign.

Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

T.J. McConnell: 17 Assists

Arriving in Philadelphia undrafted, McConnell has made significant progress in his two seasons in the league. This year, McConnell averaged 6.6 assists per game. After coming off the bench for his first 30 games of the season, McConnell averaged 7.6 assists per game over his remaining 51 games as a starter.

McConnell’s 17=assist performance came during a narrow road loss to the Boston Celtics. Playing 37 minutes, McConnell committed just two turnovers and was a +10 while on the floor. Overall, McConnell’s ball handling over the course of last season was exceptional, ranking fifth in the league in assist-to-turnover ratio for players averaging at least 24 minutes per game at 3:36.

Here are the highlights of McConnell’s career-best night for assists:

The full top five list for assists over the past four seasons includes the following:

  1. T.J. McConnell: 17 assists, Jan. 6, 2017
  2. Michael Carter-Williams: 16 assists, Nov. 29, 2014
  3. Ish Smith: 16 assists, Jan. 18, 2016
  4. Michael Carter-Williams: 15 assists, Dec. 6, 2014
  5. Michael Carter-Williams: 14 assists, Dec. 5, 2014

Not only did Carter-Williams feature in three of the top five, he appeared in seven of the top 12 assist performances. Interestingly, Carter-Williams will now be out of his contract with the Chicago Bulls. McConnell, meanwhile, is signed through until the end of 2018-19 on a very team-friendly deal.

Side Note:  The trade of Carter-Williams following his rookie of the year season means that the Sixers own the rights to the Los Angeles Lakers’ first round draft this year if it falls outside of the top three.

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Michael Carter-Williams: 9 Steals

Carter-Williams certainly filled the box score on a regular basis in his debut season in Philadelphia. In addition to leading the team in assists per game, Carter-Williams ranked third on the team in points, rebounds and blocks per game. Furthermore, he averaged 1.9 steals per game, ranking second behind only Thaddeus Young (2.1 per game).

Playing against the back-to-back NBA champion Miami Heat, Carter-Williams notched 22 points, 12 assists, seven rebounds and a whopping nine steals in one of the more amazing debut games in recent memory. The Sixers got off to flying start, leading 33-14 after the first quarter and managed to hang on for a 110-106 win. Furthermore, Carter-Williams was a +12 while on the floor.

Here are the highlights of Carter-Williams’ epic performance:

The full top seven list for steals over the past four seasons includes the following:

  1. Michael Carter-Williams: 9 steals, Oct. 30, 2013
  2. Robert Covington: 8 steals, Nov. 27, 2015
  3. Thaddeus Young: 8 steals, Jan. 25, 2014
  4. Thaddeus Young: 7 steals, Feb. 21, 2014
  5. Michael Carter-Williams: 7 steals, Nov. 23, 2013
  6. Robert Covington: 7 steals, Feb. 2, 2015
  7. Nerlens Noel: 7 steals, Mar. 17, 2016

Carter-Williams not only appeared twice among the leaders, he accomplished this within his first 11 games in the league. From the Sixers’ current roster, only small forward Robert Covington features on the list. Last season, Covington ranked fourth in the league with 1.9 steals per game.

Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Nerlens Noel: 9 Blocks

Noel recorded five or more blocks on seven occasions during his 171 games in Philadelphia. Per 36 minutes, Noel averaged 2.0 blocks per game in his three seasons with the Sixers.

His career-best nine blocks came during a home loss to the Indiana Pacers. In 33 minutes, Noel also recorded 12 points, nine rebounds and four steals.

Here are the highlights of Noel’s block party:

The full top seven list for blocks over the past four seasons is as follows:

  1. Nerlens Noel: 9 blocks, Feb. 20, 2015
  2. Jerami Grant: 8 blocks, Jan. 21, 2015
  3. Nerlens Noel: 6 blocks, Mar. 24, 2015
  4. Nerlens Noel: 6 blocks, Jan. 30, 2015
  5. Jerami Grant: 6 blocks, Apr. 4, 2015
  6. Spencer Hawes: 6 blocks, Nov. 8, 2013
  7. Jarvis Vernado: 6 blocks, Mar. 29, 2014

Noticably, no present day Sixers feature on this list. Center Joel Embiid and his backup Richaun Holmes are the only current Sixers who have recorded at least five blocks in a game. Embiid did this twice last season, while Holmes reached this mark on one occasion.

As a team last season, the Sixers ranked seventh in the league in blocks at 5.1 per game, with four players (Embiid, Okafor, Holmes and Covington) averaging at least 1.0 per game.

So despite the loss in recent seasons of very capable shot-blockers, the Sixers can be comforted in the knowledge that their current center rotation is more than adept at protecting the rim.

Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot: +40

Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot finished the season strong following a slow start to his rookie campaign. And while he had better numbers across the board in other games, recording a +40 in a starting role as a rookie is quite unprecedented.

The game in question was a blowout, a 116-74 home victory against the Dallas Mavericks. Playing 29 minutes, Luwawu-Cabarrot posted 12 points, four rebounds, two assists and a steal. In a completely dominant game from the home side, all five Sixers starters recorded a minimum of +30 while on the court.

The highlights of the game are below:

The full top five list of plus/minus with a minimum of 29 minutes over the last four seasons is as follows:

  1. Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot: +40, Mar. 17, 2017
  2. Luc Mbah a Moute: +34, Jan. 28, 2015
  3. Michael Carter-Williams: +34, Jan. 28, 2015
  4. Nerlens Noel: +34, Jan. 28, 2015
  5. Robert Covington: +32, Jan. 16, 2015

A quirky observation here is the three players appearing from the one game, none of whom are still with the team. The game in question was an 89-69 home win over the Detroit Pistons. Only Covington remains from the starting lineup in that contest. In fact, Covington is the only player on the present day roster from that game. This is astounding, considering the game was played just over two years ago.

The other Sixers starter from that game: JaKarr Sampson, who was a +26. It was a complete contrast, with all five bench contributors recording a minus while on the floor.

Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Isaiah Canaan: 8 Three-Pointers

Isaiah Canaan is another player who made an impact in a short period of time in Philadelphia. Acquired via trade during the 2014-15 season, Canaan played in 99 total games for the Sixers. During that stretch, he hit at least five three-pointers on nine occasions.

His eight three-pointers made were part of a 31-point, seven-rebound, six-assist performance in an overtime loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder. In fact, this was just Canaan’s seventh appearance in a Sixers uniform. Overall, Canaan was 8-of-13 from behind three and was a +5 while on the floor despite the Sixers’ loss.

The full highlights of Canaan’s big night out are below:

The list of most three pointers made over the last four seasons is as follows:

  1. Isaiah Canaan: 8 three-pointers, Mar. 4, 2015
  2. Robert Covington: 7 three-pointers, Feb. 10, 2016
  3. Robert Covington: 7 three-pointers, Apr. 8, 2016
  4. 19 games of 6 three-pointers

Three-point shooting is certainly going to be a priority this summer for the Sixers. This season, the Sixers ranked 25th in the league in three-point shooting at 34.0 percent.

Covington, the Sixers’ most prolific three-point shooter, attempted 412 three-pointers but converted at just a 33.3 percent clip. Along with Nicholas Batum of the Charlotte Hornets, this was the worst three-point percentage return among players who attempted at least 400 three-pointers this season.

Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Best Individual Performances For 2016-17 And Looking Forward

It’s always interesting to look back over recent seasons to see who has made a real impact. Considering a high percentage of the players featured on lists are no longer on the Sixers’ roster, it’s a testament to the job the coach Brown and his staff have performed with such a high turnover of players.

Here are the top individual performances for this season:

Points: 

  1. Joel Embiid: 33 points, Dec. 12, 2016
  2. Joel Embiid: 32 points, Jan. 27, 2016
  3. Dario Saric: 32 points, Mar. 24, 2017

Rebounds:

  1. Ersan Ilyasova: 17 rebounds, Dec. 6, 2016
  2. Dario Saric: 15 rebounds, Feb. 25, 2017
  3. Joel Embiid: 14 rebounds, Jan. 11, 2017
  4. Richaun Holmes: 14 rebounds, Mar. 20, 2017

Assists:

  1. T.J. McConnell: 17 assists, Jan. 6, 2017
  2. T.J. McConnell: 13 assists, Jan. 25, 2017
  3. T.J. McConnell: 12 assists, Jan. 29, 2017
  4. Sergio Rodriguez: 12 assists, Nov. 11, 2016

Steals:

  1. Robert Covington: 5 steals, Mar. 20, 2017
  2. Robert Covington: 5 steals, Jan. 8, 2017
  3. T.J. McConnell: 5 steals, Feb. 15, 2017

Blocks:

  1. Robert Covington: 5 blocks, Mar. 3, 2017
  2. Joel Embiid: 5 blocks,. Jan. 16, 2017
  3. Joel Embiid: 5 blocks, Dec. 5, 2016
  4. Richaun Holmes: 5 blocks, Feb. 24, 2017

Plus/Minus (Minimum 29 minutes):

  1. Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot: +40, Mar. 17, 2017
  2. Nik Stauskas: +22, Jan. 8, 2017

Three-Pointers:

  1. Robert Covington: 6 three-pointers, Nov. 28, 2016
  2. 9 games of 5 three-pointers

Possibly the most encouraging aspect from these numbers is that the leaders for each category still have the best years of their careers ahead of them.

It would be a concern if a 28-win team featured past-their-prime veterans amongst the leaders for individual performances

But when it consists of rookies, and second- or third-year players, it bodes well for the Sixers in the coming years.

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